BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Dolores Huerta Foundation is hosting a free town hall for the community on the importance of the 2020 census on Thursday.
At the event speakers, community leaders, and a U.S. Census Bureau representative will be in attendance to answer questions.
Fernando Torres, a Bakersfield organizer with Dolores Huerta Foundation, says the goal of the town hall is to encourage all groups to fill out the 2020 census form.
"A lot of the community members in our Eastside and Southside of Bakersfield were not counted," Torres said. "That led to a devastating loss of necessary federal funds for community services, schools, clinics, and public housing. Every person that does get counted that’s $20,000, so when people don’t get counted we risk losing those funds."
Torres says in 2010, many people who did not fill out the census in those areas were majority African Americans and Latinos.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that they hope to change this.
"Another important thing is that we carry this data for the next ten years," said Patricia Ramos, a representative from the U.S. Census Bureau. "So if we don’t get it right in 2020 we won’t be able to do it again in 2030."
The U.S. Census Bureau wants to remind the community that the census does not have a citizenship question on the form and that all information is protected by federal law.
"They have nothing to fear by filling out the census, there is a federal law that states no census information can be shared with any other federal agency including ICE," Torres said. "If there happens to be any violation that’s five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for every violation."
The town hall will hand out census 101 tool kits that break down how to fill out the census before individuals start receiving notifications next year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals can fill out the form by phone, mail and now for the first time through the internet.
"It's important for everyone to be counted for, whether they are here with documents or without, so we have the right services in our community," Ramos said.